Queensland Wants To Be a Hydrogen and New Economy Minerals ‘Powerhouse’

Queensland Wants To Be a Hydrogen and New Economy Minerals ‘Powerhouse’
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Announced yesterday through the 2022 Queensland Budget, the state will be putting a great deal of focus on hydrogen and “new economy minerals”.

“Queensland is quickly becoming a renewable energy and hydrogen powerhouse,” the Queensland 2022 Budget papers read.

“There are opportunities to supply the world with new economy minerals and manufacture the equipment needed to tackle climate change and reskill our workforce.”

As part of the Budget, $48 million will be put towards pumped hydrogen energy storage projects.

Gladstone is expected to become one of the world’s largest hydrogen equipment manufacturing facilities, as indicated in the Budget, with the Queensland government partnering with Fortescue Future Industries.

Additionally, a new facility will be established in Aldoga to create electrolysers (a machine that powers electrolysis, the process of creating hydrogen). Production will begin in 2023.

“Gladstone will also have one of Australia’s first renewable hydrogen powered passenger ferries. The government is investing $5 million from its $35 million Hydrogen Industry Development Fund to support SeaLink Marine & Tourism in developing this emerging transport option for the local community,” the Budget adds.

It’s great to see hydrogen as a focus for the Queensland government, a renewable fuel that can even be a fuel for cars, but in order for these projects to be as sustainable as possible, the hydrogen production facilities would need to be powered by renewables (otherwise you’re just producing energy by using fossil fuels).

But what about “new economy minerals”, what is a new economy mineral?

According to the Queensland government, a new economy mineral is a mineral used in emerging technologies, such as electric vehicles, renewable energy products, low-emission power sources, consumer devices and products for medical, defence and scientific research sectors.

To put it frankly, these are minerals that we’re gonna need as we shift to more sustainable technologies. The state government actually has a pretty handy map of where it’s mining new economy minerals across the state, including what minerals are being mined (cobalt, tungsten, vanadium, graphite and titanium, to name a few).

Aside from hydrogen and new economy minerals, the Budget was quite light on renewables, actually, with not much to be said for clean energy at all. However, as the Renew Economy outlines, Queensland will become one of the first states to impose higher taxes on coal producers.

“Embracing decarbonisation does not need to come at the expense of the economy or jobs,” said Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick in his Budget speech.

Higher royalty fees will be handed to coal producers in steps to decarbonise, increasing the cost of coal extraction for large coal mining companies. Considering the shrinking international market for coal (with China lowering coal imports and India embracing renewables) this is likely a symptom of things to come.

If you’d like to flick through the Queensland 2022 Budget, you can find the highlights here.